Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians reaffirmed his desire to see more women hired in the NFL as the league opened its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum this week.
Arians has promoted increased coaching diversity, making intern Jen Welter the first women coach in the league in 2015 with the Arizona Cardinals and recently winning the Super Bowl with a coaching staff including two female coaches in Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar.
The Forum, introduced by Senior Director of Diversity Sam Rapoport in 2017, has helped create 118 opportunities for women in football over the past four years, giving those present the opportunity to network with NFL and college team executives, coaches, general managers and owners.
Arians’ devotion to gender inclusivity was recognised last year when he was honoured with the Champion for Equality Award by Billie Jean King.
“I want many, many voices and I don’t want them to sound the same,” said Arians. “I wanted them to be different. So, when the female coaches talk, when [82-year-old offensive analyst] Tom Moore talks, when a young coach speaks up, everybody listens. We have great input from all these different voices so that we have outstanding output.
“I’ve really enjoyed having the perspective of women in our building, on our staff coaching and scouting. This year, particularly, sometimes, I think women have the intuition and the ability to read people. And it’s been an asset for us.”
There are currently seven female coaches in the NFL following Katie Sowers’ mid-season departure from the San Francisco 49ers. Six of the seven were involved in the playoffs in January, with Washington’s full-year coaching intern Jennifer King and the Bucs’ Locust and Javadifar marking the first time female coaches from opposing teams have faced off in the postseason.
Today kicked off the 2021 NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum, which has helped develop a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting women with opportunities in Football Ops, 118 of which have emerged since 2017.
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Arians wants to see those numbers continue to rise.
“You’re not getting a job unless you stick your neck out there,” he said. “I’d like to continue to build this. I mean, what Lori and MJ have done, they’re laying the groundwork for a lot of people.
“I told you two years ago, I didn’t get enough resumes. All right, I didn’t get any resumes this year, either. You’re not getting hired if you don’t give me a resume. Now, I don’t have any jobs open, but I still want at least 10 resumes by the end of the week, so we have them on file.”
Arians is one of seven NFL head coaches contributing as featured speakers this week, while three owners and seven general managers will also address the 40 women involved on the virtual platform.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht is among those taking part as he looks to pave the way future generations.
“It hits close to home,” he said. “I have a 10-year-old daughter, who fights with her two brothers, she’s bookended by an older brother and a younger brother, and they play flag football now.
“She signed up for football this year and has excelled playing football. She wants to be a coach someday, and no longer do you hear her brother saying well you can be a coach, it’s now it’s accepted that she could become a coach, because of what what’s been instilled here through the Glazer family and BA especially.”
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